Why I Believe in Adoption

I remember the moment I fell in love with my oldest daughter. We were at a carnival and she was riding on some sort of ride that had her going round and around. Her hair was flying back behind her and she was laughing as she bumped back and forth with her friend in the seat beside her. In an instant, my heart just melted and tears welled up in my eyes and I knew she really was my daughter. Legally, she wasn’t part of our family yet and at 10 years old we were her second foster home and were just at the beginning stages of adoption. But at that moment, she would forever be burned in my heart, no matter what turned out in the court system.

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God had placed adoption in our hearts many, many years before this moment. Through the heartbreaking circumstance of losing a child and the emotional roller coaster of infertility issues, we knew He was calling us in that direction. While we were amazingly blessed with two biological children, His call to adopt did not leave our hearts, it just changed direction. We began considering and praying about who He would have us adopt and the circumstances under which it should take place. There was no doubt that our call was to provide a home for a child who would have a more difficult placement than a newborn or toddler.

It wasn’t an easy decision to adopt an older child and honestly we had no intention of adopting a child older than any of our children at home. God had other plans and our little Hawaiian girl pretty much fell directly in our laps. An easy going, independent survivor she assumed her role as “the middle child” in our family without hesitation.

And any of you who welcomes a little child like this because you are mine is welcoming me and caring for me.  Matthew 18:5

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 It would seem that the story could end here, all sunshine and roses and happy ending, but it doesn’t. We are incredibly blessed to parent this child and have her as part of our family, but adoption is hard. As I speak with others who have adopted and we share our stories, I can see the relief in knowing that in the things we struggle with and the things we sometimes feel, we aren’t alone. Parenting is hard. Period. No doubt about it. The adoption element just adds a different dimension and dynamic for both the parent and the child.

As an adopted child of God, I know that this challenge is a privilege and an opportunity to extend to another the heritage that I have been given.

God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. Galatians 4: 4-7

As in parenting any child, there have been challenges, tears and difficulties. That being said, we have never regretted the decision to love her and bring her into our family. There has also been much love, laughter and joy and to see her now becoming a strong, independent self-sufficient young adult brings pride and satisfaction to our hearts in knowing that we gave her the chance in life that might not have otherwise occurred.

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How about you? Have you considered adoption?

Statistics found at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute state that in the United States 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. 101,666 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 32% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted. Source: AFCARS Report, No. 20

Around the world, there are an estimated 153 million orphans who have lost one parent. There are 17,900,000 orphans who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages or on the streets and lack the care and attention required for healthy development. Source: Childinfo (UNICEF, 2011)

In 2012, 23,396 youth aged out of the U.S. foster care system without the emotional and financial support necessary to succeed. Nearly 40% had been homeless or couch surfed, nearly 60% of young men had been convicted of a crime, and only 48% were employed. 75% of women and 33% of men receive government benefits to meet basic needs. 50% of all youth who aged out were involved in substance use and 17% of the females were pregnant. Source: AFCARS Report, No. 20,  Jim Casey Youth

Nearly 25% of youth aging out did not have a high school diploma or GED, and a mere 6% had finished a two- or four-year degree after aging out of foster care. One study shows 70% of all youth in foster care have the desire to attend college. Source: Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth

You don’t have to be a perfect family to be a good family, just have willing heart and the faith to just take a step. Get involved. Learn. Contribute your time and volunteer. Be the one to make a change for just one and together we can change the world.

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Regrets and Do Overs

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Do Over!

Jeremiah 18:3-4 “So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.”

As kids playing games you would often hear “Do Over!” when the outcome was not what the vocal party had anticipated. As a forty-something or other, I often want to raise my voice and cry out so all can hear…” DO OVER!” THIS is really not how I had planned things to turn out. THIS is not what I pictured in my head. THIS was not part of my dream. Can I just start again? Please?

Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband, I love my kids, I love my family, friends and my life. But there are those moments…those times I look back and shake my head and wish I could take them back. Re-do them and do them right. Fix the hurt, undo the wrong, and press on to a better ending. Do over. But life doesn’t work that way. So if we can’t do over, what can we do? The do over is an opportunity to try or perform something a second time; to do something again from the beginning, especially because you did it badly the first time. Now, I certainly don’t wish to go back to elementary school (although the mandatory naps would be nice); the thought of re-doing the teen years, ummm, no thanks. While there are moments I wish I would have done differently, handled with more kindness and grace, made a better choice, all of those experiences have shaped who I am now.

So now what about do over moments? I have truly spent years letting guilt, shame and regret drag me down and storm over my life. But I’m telling you this, I know that God has so much more planned for me than to let me wallow in that place. And my friend, He has those same grace filled plans for you. To think, for even a moment, that in not sparing His own son that He would want us to stay in those dark places is just not the truth. Maybe there are some things that need to be made right with someone else. Maybe you need to make it right with yourself. Ultimately though, it has to be made right with your Creator, allowing Him room to re-mold the clay and make it into something new.

Philippians 3:12-14  “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”